(just for the record, this is a slight alteration of my anime review)
This is the title that initiated the Magical Girlfriend subgenre of harems and ecchies and it’s also amongst the oldest harems yet still published manga series (it’s been around since 1988).
STORY SECTION: 5/10 [Feels almost like a hentai]
Analysis: General Scenario 1/2, Pacing 1/2, Side Stories/Extra Spices 2/2, Plausibility 1/2, Conclusion 0/2
The story is about a teenage dork dialing the wrong number and ends up living with a beautiful goddess, ready to fulfill his wishes, of which his is to stay with him forever (wish fulfillment). Soon afterwards her also godly sisters pop up (harem creation) and his life becomes complicating as he is constantly surrounded by supernatural hot chicks and had to keep using his talents to save the world from cosmic horrors (action) without messing his tiny personal life (comedy). The story is one big pile of comedy, romance, drama, that also blends mythology with science fiction. The core premise is always about Keichi and Belldandy being in love and staying true to each other, even when the cosmic forces conspire against them.
The whole “Sudden Girlfriend Appearance” never made much sense and a “Magical Girlfriend” one makes even less. The whole deal is quite unrealistic. Beautiful goddesses, living in your apartment and helping you solve your problems with epic-level magic? That is something that happens only in anime as cheap means of escapism. Plus, only living with them but never go beyond peeking and hugging is something that all men should loathe worldwide.
But let’s not forget it was amongst the first to set the stage as such and it was everybody else that copied this now tired formula. I hold nothing against its premise as it was quite original and interesting back then. Also, judging it as a fictional story it is far-far better than most similar series as it leaves room for infinite possibilities. Unlike most harems that are hardly trying to flesh out their characters or provide internal logic to all the madness in the story, AMG is actually trying its best to make everything seem logical and excused. The girls are all there for a reason, react somewhat logical with the restrictions of the premise, have powers that are somewhat excused through science and every event has technology and mythology to back it up.
Also, the story never forgets to still be easy-going and funny, where nothing major or deadly ever happens; so all “fake-looking” or “nerdy” situations in it are easily ignored. Realism aside, it is good and cheery, without being great. Some parts are definitely more exciting or funny than others and most of the duration may feel as dead time but it is still overall quite enjoyable.
A big flaw for some is that there is no actual scenario development, other than introducing more secondary characters and ephemeral threats every now and then. But if stand-alone episodes and stale stories don’t bother you, this is not a problem anymore. Other than that, there is no actual objective or even a conclusion, no matter how many mangas come out. It just goes on and on indefinitely.
CHARACTER SECTION: 6/10 [Sultan’s favorite place]
Analysis: Presence 2/2, Personality 2/2, Backdrop 2/2, Development 0/2, Catharsis 0/2
I admit that Belldandy is amongst my favorite anime girls. Too gentle and good to be true, but then again she is a goddess and that is enough of an excuse. Her sisters Urd and Skuld are also very interesting. Few series manage to present so many diverse and yet likable characters. I can say it is the combination of great visuals, ethereal music and unearthly nature that makes them feel far better than the average harem bimbo out there.
But Keichi is was and still is a typical male dork that is swarmed by beautiful girls without being anything special. Oh, sure, he is gentle, kind, good-hearted and the like; but let’s face it, girls don’t really notice such things. We can always justify it with the fact that Belldandy is a goddess that can see people for what they really are. But since I am not a god, I say he is a sissy for feeling embarrassed every time he has the chance to make some lovey-dovey. He and all other males like him in most harem anime are despicable! They give the male gender a bad name, he is the driest and worst character amongst the cast. But if I am to give him a few redeeming qualities, I can say he is actually using his brain from time to time to solve some problems and even finds the courage to fight for his harem. Too bad he isn’t bold enough to do anything other than that.
Other than that, all characters have quirks, backdrop stories and goals that go beyond their stereotypes as sex-bombs, edgy lolitas and shy male virgins. The secondary characters are all very likable and give enough coloring to main ones. None of them were bad or unneeded in the story. I can’t say the same about Keichi (and to think he is supposed to be the protagonist!).
None develops or finds any sort of catharsis because of the short-arced type of series, which may become tiresome after awhile. Meaning, the characters are colored but are not developing at all. Keichi and Belldandy come a bit closer in the end but it’s nothing much.
ART SECTION: 9/10 [Magical technology]
Analysis: General Artwork 2/2, Character Figures 2/2, Backgrounds 2/2, Readability 1/2, Visual Effects 2/2
The art starts of very weak but slowly improves to the point it looks great if you compare it with other similar series.
-All Slice-Of-Life series don’t use flashy visual effects (they don’t fit there). So, the graphics here are catchier, by default.
-Most romances hardly have so heart-warming atmosphere and adorable character figures.
-Most Magical Girl series don’t have so well made (or serious looking, if you prefer) visual effects.
-Almost all comedies don’t have so detailed character figures. They are usually simplistic and go chibi all the time.
-Most Harem/Ecchi series turn their female characters into obnoxious, panties-revealing sluts. The girls here retain an air of purity and gentleness. The naughty scenes are few but worthwhile, as the focus in the series is not waiting to see boobs every 10 seconds (like it happens in most).
VALUE SECTION: 8/10 [A light that shines your heart]
Analysis: Historical Value 3/3, Rereadability 2/3, Memorability 3/4
Ah! My Goddess helped to mainstream Harem and Magical Girlfriend stereotypes and thus deserves a good mark just for that. Rewatchability is high. It is comical and heart-warming enough to deserve a second watch. But you will most likely skip some not-so great part. Although not original or unique anymore, it is still amongst the best of its genre.
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 5/10 [Like a sunny day, it is enjoyable but also rather passable]
Some problems ruined a portion of the enjoyment.
-The relationship between Keichi and Beldandy never goes beyond hugging, making the whole deal stale and without further development. The story itself has no development, other than introducing more secondary characters every now and then.
-There is a lot of character coloring as the series progress but very little character development. You get to know more about them but don’t see them change at all.
-There are lots of uninteresting chapters, where the goddesses and/or demons rival each other, just for laughs.
-There is no conclusion.
The rest of it was quite decent and a worthy read.
A great piece of work in its kind that is bogged down by its stale and aimless storytelling.